Away with Social-Club Church, In With Gospel Partnership!

wp-1449632031481.jpgDid you know that the moment you surrendered to Christ, you became a partner in the gospel with every other believer on the planet? God sent the apostle Paul to plant and establish churches all through Asia Minor, into Rome, and likely into Spain. As he won many to Christ who rescued them from their sins both now and eternally, what God used him to do is acquired more partners in the gospel.

So Paul leads off his prayer with thanksgiving. Dear Lord, every time I think of these believers in Philippi, I am grateful and have joy because of having them as partners!  I wonder, would Paul be able to say that of me? Would he be able to say that of our churches here in Denver? Would he be able to say that of Arapahoe Road Baptist Church. As we see from the Ephesian church in Revelation, Christ told them they had lost their first love. The essentials had moved to the peripherals, and the peripherals move to the essentials.What are the essentials? Albert Mohler helps us out:

First-level theological issues would include those doctrines most central and essential to the Christian faith. Included among these most crucial doctrines would be doctrines such as the Trinity, the full deity and humanity of Jesus Christ, justification by faith, and the authority of Scripture.

While we could spend weeks on each of these issues, what we do see if that if a Christian or churches compromise on any of these doctrines, we undermine the gospel. The gospel is not simply believing a set of facts, but it is a surrender to all that Christ has revealed about His nature, His work in rescuing us, and how He aims to work in us! That’s the good news—God will not hold us according to our sins, but will rescue us according to His grace.

We are partners in this and because of this. And the apostle Paul modeled this partnership. Look at the first three words of this letter: Paul and Timothy. Paul was Timothy’s spiritual father. Paul was 12 years older than Timothy (Paul born in AD 5, Timothy born in AD 17), making them 45 and 33, respectively. Regardless of their backgrounds, they were partners in the gospel,servants of Christ Jesus, and saints.

It’s here we revisit the issue of surrender. Go back to verse 1 again: The word for ‘servants’ is the word doulos which means a bondservant, or a full-fledged slave. Slaves had no rights, but willingly surrendered them to their Master. We hear of slaves and automatically hearken back to the black eye of our history, in the race-based slavery found in our country in the 18th and 19th century. Here, slaves could be found in all strata of Roman life, and serve that way willingly in order to pay off a debt.

Saints come from the understanding of being set apart for His use. In fact,the word church many times in the NT comes from the word ekklesia, which means called out ones. A partnership in the gospel means that we have surrendered our rights to his, we are saints who are called out from the world while still in the world.

He also calls out the overseers and deacons. Overseers (from the Greek presbuteros) are the spiritual overseers and leaders of the church. Deacon are the ones in charge of the physical matters of the church. As the saints are the called-out ones from the world, the overseers and deacons are the called-out ones of the church (ordained, if you will). They are called out to be leaders in the church, as Hebrews 13 identifies,the ones who delivered the Word to you. The Word brings joy and unity, something that the leaders bring with the Word. Ephesians 4:11-13:

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers,to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

You see, the unity that your leaders are to model and provide is a unity not just in being welcoming and friendly, but a unity in the Word of God— which makes us alive in the Spirit but also kills the flesh!

Let’s partner in the gospel, finding our joy in Christ and unity with one another.  The gospel brings joy in Christ, and the more we pursue Christ, the more unified we’ll be with each other.

The Five C’s of Examining Christ’s Call Into Ministry

Leading with joy starts with the foundation of Christ’s call into the ministry.  When you know that the Sovereign ruler of the universe has called you into His kingdom work, a fair dose of terror but also of joy fills your heart.  You love Him more, you love His Word more, you love His people more–and you also begin to hate the sin in your heart even more!

When aspiring into the ministry, one must look at the five C’s to examine that call:

Calling:  Do you sense God calling you into the ministry?  Why?  Where did you sense this calling?  Is this an unrelenting passion?  What influences did you have in sensing this calling?

Paul had a passion to preach the Word to the Gentiles.  Romans 15:18-20 says:

18 For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, 19 by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; 20 and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named,lest I build on someone else’s foundation.

His ambition, his passion, his calling fulled his joy!  What about you?

Consecration/Cleansing:  Are you working diligently to fight sin and all its effects?  Are your spiritual disciplines in place?

Paul told the Roman church to set their mind on the things of the Spirit, not the flesh.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God (Romans 8:5-8).

The Christian in general, but the minister in particular must set their minds on the things of the Spirit.  This intentionality fights the war against sin and anything that does not uplift Christ in thought, in word, or in deed.

Character:  Are you the same at work, at home, and at a church?  Do you have a ‘church’ facade and a home facade?  The key words are integrity and consistency.

So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).

“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord, and not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free (Ephesians 6:5-8).

All of life is worship. As you sense that call to ministry, do you see that all of the Christian life is a ministry of worship before the Lord?

Communicate:  Are you sharing your faith regularly?  Are you being discipled by someone in the church?  Are you discipling someone in the church?  Have you shown an ability to teach and care for people whom seek to teach about the gospel?

“Go, and make disciples” (Matthew 28:19) is not just for the apostles but for all Christians. Is this a reality for you?  Do you expect this to change once you become ‘official’ in ministry? No!  That should not be!

Confirmation:  Would your wife, your work, and those around you confirm your calling into ministry? What would the leaders in your church say? 

I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:3-7).

When it came to Timothy, the apostle Paul, Timothy’s grandmother and mother, and all the church leaders confirmed God’s call into Christ’s ministry–and how that calling and confirmation should stoke Timothy to lead with joy and not fear.

Look for upcoming videos on these topics and others.